GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors!
Visit our Sponsors and win.


Anne K Moore
Photographs Anne K Moore

It isn’t widely known, but I am not much of a houseplant grower. For some reason I tend to forget to water my indoor charges. Fertilizer? You would think I never even heard of the stuff.

My first gardens included many indoor houseplants that never saw the light of a sunny day outdoors. Yet they thrived. I did have a method to my plant choices during those years spent “up Noth” where I could only garden outdoors for three or four months. I would purchase my plants from stores that didn’t coddle them. I figured if they survived the neglect and harsh conditions in these non-plant departments, that they would make it with my less than perfect care. Usually this worked, even with half-dead sale plants.

Nowadays, when I move tropical plants – also known as houseplants to much of the gardening population – indoors, they just hang on until they can be moved back to their rightful place in the garden setting.

The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Emerald Fronds') is the ultimate houseplant for plant killers. It has that dinosaur look that appeals to us plant collectors, with its extremely shiny leaves that grow stiffly upright from an underground tuber. The swollen stems at the base of the leaves show its water-holding capability. (For some reason, these stems remind me of the African Baobab Tree, Adansonia digitata.)

I could leave my ZZ plant outdoors since its roots will survive 25 degree F. weather but I am hoping it will reach its full potential of three feet tall so I bring it indoors to overwinter. It thrives on my porch in the summer where it gets very little light from the tree-shaded garden. I water it occasionally after the soil dries out.

Those of you who garden USDA Zones 9-11 can grow the ZZ plant outdoors year-round in part sun or shade. If your soil is so acid you think you can only grow blueberries, the ZZ plant is for you. It will grow in soil with a pH of 4-5.

I bought my ZZ plant at a plant auction held by a local Camellia Society. It has at least doubled in size in a couple years. If you are looking for an unusual plant or one that is not readily available in your area, do check out local Master Gardener sales and Garden Society sales. Members love to share the unusual things that thrive in their own gardens. You can also get good growing advice from these members.

Stokes Tropicals lists the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Emerald Fronds') in their on-line catalog.

Follow Anne K Moore as she and Linda Weiss blog at Diggin’ It at the Christian Science Monitor website.


All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

Article URL:

Back to Articles List                               

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Heather Rhoades,, Photographs courtesy of

Cover crops are an often-overlooked way to improve the vegetable garden. Oftentimes, people consider the time between late fall to winter to early spring to be a time where the vegetable garden space is wasted. We think our gardens rest during this time, but this is not the case at all. Read more...

Join fellow garden lovers, history buffs and music enthusiasts to discover the quaint towns and colorful gardens of Holland and Belgium in May of 2018.

This exciting journey will be hosted by nationally known host Eric Johnson, of Public Television's blockbuster show GardenSmart. Your river cruise begins in Amsterdam where you'll see works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Anne Frank's House, and see the city's most famous gardens. Then spend a full morning on the grounds of the most beautiful spring garden in the world-Keukenhof! Visit the picturesque Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent as well as Kinderdijk, with the Netherlands' iconic collection of 19 authentic windmills that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, history buffs will experience a captivating tour of the WWI trenches of Flanders and WWII Arnhem Battlefield of A Bridge Too Far fame. You won't want to miss this extraordinary garden adventure to Holland and Belgium.

Book by November 15, 2017 and save up to $1200 dollars per person!

To register call: Alki Tours at 800-895-2554

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.